Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Rails Are Off ... And Bedtime Is New Year's Eve


Way back around Thanksgiving, Thing 2 figured out how to climb out of her crib, though she managed to scrape herself while doing so. She proceeded to climb out several times a night, and so we figured it was time to take a rail off one side of her crib. And since Monkey See, Monkey Do seems to be the rule with twins, we figured we'd best do the same for Thing 1, even though he'd shown no signs of wanting to imitate her feat.

That very first night, it might as well have been New Year's Eve in the kids' room. They were up playing with toys every time we re-entered the room (having been alerted by the giggling) . We kept marching them back into bed and leaving.

Finally they slept ... but at three a.m., Thing 1 appeared at our bedside, proclaiming, "I'm all done sleeping. I want breakfast."

One of us -- I can't remember who, I'm too bleary-eyed at the memory of that night -- got up and marched Thing 1 back to bed.

The New Year's Eve thing seemed to die down after a couple of nights, but Thing 1's middle-of-the-night appearances at our bedside continued ... to the point when we decided enough was enough. Thing 2 was staying in her bed all night, having adjusted to the freedom of losing that rail. But Thing 1 was clearly not ready to be let loose from the crib.

Thing 1's rail went back up.

Thing 2 maintained her freedom.

In the ensuing weeks and months, Thing 2 routinely appeared at our bedside in the morning -- though thankfully never before six a.m., and frequently not until seven -- to inform us that Thing 1 was awake, needed a diaper change, and wanted his morning milk. She became her brother's keeper, and was quite insistent that his needs be met, since he could not get out of his crib himself to tell us what they were.

Then a week or two ago, Thing 1 began to climb out of his crib, and landed with a thud. Fearful of an injury, especially since Thing 1 has a tendency toward obliviousness to all danger -- we realized it was time for his rail to come down again.

Saturday night, Dad took off the rail, after we'd prepped Thing 1, explaining he was now ready for a Big Boy Bed, but the rule was, he had to stay in it after we put him in it at bedtime.

Saturday night was New Year's Eve all over again.

Thing 2 joined in the shenanigans, even though she's been staying in her bed for months. After repeated visits back to their room, to march them to bed, Late Blooming Mom wound up sitting in their room, back against the door, keeping a vigilant watch until they both fell asleep.

The second night -- a school night, which made getting to bed on time more important -- New Year's Eve returned. Toys were overturned, closets accessed, drawers rummaged through. Every book on the book shelf seemed to have landed in Thing 1's crib. And when I walked in on the two co-conspirators, one kid was standing up legs apart, the other was crawling underneath said legs, and both were in the midst of uncontrollable giggles. They gave me looks that said, "We know we're busted -- but it was sooooo worth it." I marched them to bed and did my mom cop act, sitting against the door till I heard snoring from each crib.

Realizing I couldn't keep this up, the next night, I wound up making repeat visits again, but it was only to guide Thing 1 back to bed. His sister, who'd failed to nap at school, had fallen into a deep sleep the moment her head hit the pillow. This mystified Thing 1, who kept complaining in a loud voice that his sister wasn't talking to him. I told him she was asleep and he'd better get to sleep too. The third time I came in to check on him, he was practically asleep, but sprawled face down on our folding futon beneath the crib, toys and books strewn everywhere about him.

The next night, we had a sitter.

The kids behaved like perfect angels and though the sitter had to pop back in once, briefly, that was the extent of the bedtime battle.

But then, the next night, New Year's Eve was back. Cop enforcement was necessary. Worse, Thing 1 showed up in our room at three a.m. requesting we help find his apparently lost binky.

Tonight, it's daddy who's doing the cop bit at the door.

Every morning that Thing 1 awakens without having gotten enough sleep, he's a whining, complaining, annoying pain, kvetching about everything. We explain to him that he's like this because he hasn't gotten enough sleep, and the reason for that is not staying in bed at bedtime, when we tell him to do so. But he's too cranky for the truth to penetrate his sleep-deprived mind. Several times, we've carried him kicking and screaming down to the car so he can go to preschool.

Tonight daddy threatened Thing 1 with putting the rail back up. But I don't want him to follow through on the threat because, as bad as the mornings are, as icky as playing cop can be, and as much as I long for the path of least resistance, I know Thing 1 has gotta work through this. He must learn that bedtime means bedtime, and he's got to get to the point where no parental cop need be present to enforce the rules. A real Big Boy bed isn't too far in his future. And we're planning some out of town trips this summer, which can only be accomplished if he can stay in a bed all night, since he's gotten too big for a port-a-crib.

We're gritting our teeth and carrying on as best we can, sleep-deprived and grumpy.
But I think I understand the meaning of the expression "off the rails" in a way I never have before. He's gone off the rails, and we can only keep firmly putting him back in bed until he figures out that Big Boys Stay In Bed, so that, god willing, their parents can too.

1 comment:

Alyssa said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that it was back to business as usual on Wed. night. I really applaud you and Mike for being consistent and not going the easy way. I hope you both get some reprieve soon (i.e. Sunday night if you can make it until then).

Good luck!
-Alyssa